Edward IV’s return in 1471 seemed to end the War of the Roses. The Lancastrians appeared defeated, Henry VI and his heirs dead, and Warwick’s rebellion crushed. Peace reigned for a dozen years until Edward passed away. His death unleashed another round of dynastic struggle centering on Richard III. Richard assumed the throne only to face rebellion and invasion. In the end, Henry Tudor emerged from obscurity to capture the throne and end the thirty-year conflict.
12-year-old Edward V was too young to rule. As a result, his father named the boy’s uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Lord Protector of England. Richard moved Edward V and his younger brother to the Tower of London for their protection. The boys vanished mysteriously opening the throne to Richard. Richard III was crowned on July 6, 1483.
Edward’s death and the probable murder of his direct heirs touched off Buckingham’s revolt. The Duke of Buckingham hoped to replace the Yorkist Richard III with the Lancastrian Henry Tudor. Edward IV brushed off Tudor’s claims as fanciful. However, Buckingham viewed it as the Lancastrian’s last chance at power. Storms prevented Tudor from landing to aid the revolt. The same storms prevented Buckingham from linking with other rebels. In the end, his revolt sputtered out and he was executed.
Despite Buckingham’s folly, plots continued against Richard. They intensified with the death of Richard’s wife and son. The lack of heir led to uncertainty surrounding Richard III and the York Dynasty. Meanwhile, Buckingham’s supporters fled to Henry Tudor. Tudor believed Richard’s own people would desert him given the opportunity. He set sail for England on August 1, 1485.
Richard III and Henry Tudor met at Bosworth. The battle culminated the War of the Roses. Richard died in battle at the hands of Welshman Rhys ap Thomas. Henry Tudor became Henry VII and knighted Thomas. Yorkist rebellions and plots continued until the end of the century, but Tudor survived them all. He even married Elizabeth of York uniting the two houses. Henry VII merged the red and white roses representing the two families into one crest. Then, he executed Yorkist claimants.
The War of the Roses ended after thirty years. The Lancastrians won a dramatic victory over Richard III at Bosworth to claim the throne for good. Richard died in the battle effectively ending Yorkist claims. The conflict serves as a Medieval soap opera today. However, it was life and death for two generations of English.